What was the Beast of Bray Road?
The world of cryptozoology is filled with urban legends and tales of strange creatures sighted all over the world. Bigfoot, Chupacabra, and the Loch Ness monster immediately spring to the minds of most people when they hear tales of strange cryptids. The small town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin has their own monster legend, and it is weirder than any you may have heard before.
Back in the early 1990s, the Walworth County community became known on a national stage for the reports from locals that a humanoid, werewolf-like creature that walked on its hind legs was stalking a rural road outside of town.
The alleged real life werewolf sightings resulted in newspaper, coverage, books, full episodes of TV shows, documentaries, and even a horror movie about the beast.
What is the legend about the beast?
Bray Road is a rather unassuming four mile county road located just south of Elkhorn. The road itself is easy to access from the exit off Highway 12. Rumors and alleged sightings of the wolf-like creature along this stretch first began to circulate in the early 90s. The description of the creature varied, but most reported it was humanoid in nature as much as seven feet tall. The beast allegedly walked along on its hind legs. Most described a wolf or dog-like head. Red eyes are often part of the description.
Those familiar with the legend of the Michigan dogman will likely find a lot of similarities with the Bray Road beast and that legendary beast. It does sound a lot like the legends of the lycanthrope. According to the short documentary "The Beast of Bray Road," which is readily available on Amazon Prime, the first sighting of the beast happened on Halloween night 1991.
This initial sighting of the beast reads like something straight out of a horror movie. A young woman by the name of Doris Gipson was driving along Bray late that night when she felt a thump from her car. Thinking she hit something, she got out to investigate. That was when the beast appeared out of the darkness and chased her back to her vehicle. The beast allegedly scraped the trunk of her car with its claws before she drove away.
It was not the first time the beast attacked either. It scratched the vehicle of a local teen later that year. Another early eyewitness claimed she saw the beast crouched on the side of the country road eating a roadkill of some kind. Many of these early sightings may have stayed local stories if not for the work of local reporter Linda S. Godfrey.
Godfrey stated an investigation into the reports with a hint of skepticism. However, the more people she talked to, the more convinced she became the stories were real. She later wrote: "The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf." The book was a hit and helped spread the legend even more.
According to Godfrey, it was the way witnesses described the creature that convinced her there was something more to the wolfmen legend.
"I'll actually sometimes see people reliving the fear, they turn white, they turn red, they start sweating, I had one woman even burst into tears while she's telling me because they still feel this sort of visceral contact with this creature," Godfrey said in the Beast of Bray Road documentary.
Once Godfrey's articles hit the press, she became inundated with phone calls and letters from others who had seen the beast. National news picked up on the story, although as a PBS investigation from 2010 notes, most locals felt the story got blown a little out of proportion.
What type of animal is the beast of Bray Road?
While some residents were utterly convinced there was a werewolf on the loose, local law enforcement and Wisconsin wildlife officials were skeptical. Explanations included a large dog, a coyote, a wolf, or even a bear with mange as possible misidentified known animals. Those last two creatures are confirmed inhabitants of the fields and forests around Elkhorn.
These explanations did not convince many locals and eyewitnesses though. Many insisted what they had seen was no known animal. The woman who witnessed the creature eating roadkill said the animal was bent down on its knees like a person. Others said it was much too large to be any wolf or bear they had ever seen.
Some of the locals also pointed to mutilated animal remains being found in the area as proof that whatever was hanging out by Bray Road was not a creature known to science. Unfortunately, there is no other proof other than eyewitness sightings, until recently.
Is the beast still around today?
While the story started to lose a little momentum after 1991, alleged sightings of the creature have continued to trickle in, even into the 21st century. The sightings are not just confined to Bray Road either. The creature has supposedly been seen all over the county.
In 2018, a blurry photo of the beast was allegedly taken by Danny Morgan just outside of Elkhorn. Like many bigfoot pictures, it is of low quality and impossible to tell exactly what you are looking at.
In July of 2020, My Racine County reported that a man saw the beast not once, but twice about nine miles east of Elkhorn near Lyons. The eyewitness described the creature as being hairy, brown, and at least seven feet tall.
The legend of the beast will almost certainly live on in documentaries and movies too. A horror film was made about the legend in 2006 starring Jeff Denton, Thomas Downey, and Sarah Lieving. The film was written and directed by Leigh Scott. It only has a rating of 4.1 on IMDB.com.
We do not know if this is a real creature or not. One thing does seem certain though. Real or imaginary, it seems the legend of the Beast of Bray Road is here to stay.